What do Europeans think of American news
Donald Trump leaves, but the political damage remains - also for the reputation of the USA in Europe. Instead of great confidence, there is skepticism that the new President Joe Biden can stop the decline of the United States on the world political stage. That is the central result of a survey by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) in eleven European countries that the Süddeutsche Zeitung is present.
At the end of 2020, around 15,000 people were interviewed in Germany, France, Poland and Sweden, among others. Less than half of them believe that the US under Biden will get its internal quarrels under control and help solve international problems such as climate change, peace in the Middle East or European security.
At the same time, almost a third of all respondents to this survey believe that the Americans cannot be trusted after they voted Trump in 2016. In Germany, 53 percent say this - there is no greater distrust in any of the countries participating in the survey.
It is clear that the "confused presidency" has had a decisive impact on Trump's European position on the United States, stresses study author and political scientist Ivan Krastev. Together with ECFR director Mark Leonard, he evaluated the new data on Europeans' view of Biden's America in the study. The escalation of political developments, most recently with the storming of the Capitol in Washington in January, was not foreseeable at the time of the survey. However, six out of ten Europeans have already stated that they consider the US political system to be in ruins.
Further research results reflect the dramatic loss of confidence. Around two thirds of those surveyed are of the opinion that their country cannot rely on US support in the event of a major crisis. In the Federal Republic of Germany, at 60 percent, this is a somewhat lower proportion.
A majority would like more neutrality and European sovereignty
This, in turn, appears to have an impact on what Europeans expect from their politicians. Two thirds of the participants are in favor of Europe taking care of its own military resources instead of relying primarily on the Americans. A majority believe that China will overtake the United States as the leading superpower within the next decade.
At the same time, there is apparently only a very limited willingness among Europeans to support the US in possible international disputes. In all eleven countries, at least half of respondents believe that their governments should take a neutral stance in any conflict between the United States and China. In no country would a majority want to side with Washington.
Many consider good relations with Germany to be the most important thing
In contrast to the attitude of many heads of state and government, the citizens are not interested in playing a more important role in world politics, explains study author Krastev. Rather, for many respondents, "European sovereignty" means striving for a certain degree of neutrality and a less risky foreign policy.
In view of the clouded relationship with the USA, the population is apparently increasingly relying on mutual support within Europe. According to the study, Germany is usually considered to be the most important country with which "a good relationship" should be maintained. The USA only see the respondents in Great Britain, Poland, Italy and Sweden before the Federal Republic.
The study shows that the new US administration has every reason "to be afraid not only of the toxic divisions at home, but also of the mood of Europeans when America steps back into the world," according to the authors of the study .
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